A Mother of Her Class
October 19, 2014
It was September 2009, and a new school year had started. I returned from vacation with my grandparents in Croatia a bit late, several days after the official start. It was our fifth year and we were class “Kvinta.” I had known that after four years it was usual that a class gets a new class teacher. All summer I had been wondering which of the teachers at our school would get that position. I was glad to see my two best friends after my vacation. I told them about the place we had been to and the whole trip.
“So, who’s our new class teacher?” I asked afterwards.
“Andrea Zvarova. She is new here,” my friend answered.
“There she is,” added the other and pointed at a woman, who just entered our classroom.
I was not expecting it and silently stared at that woman. She was young, in her mid-twenties I guessed. Later I found out she teaches History (the subject we had with her) and French. I cannot forget her warm, wide smile, glasses, shoulder-length hair of dark blond colour and her favourite orange shirt. As our class teacher, she was responsible for us – the same 24, later 23 students – and our behaviour, helped solve problems, took care of us at trips and planned activities.
At some occasions we had unexpected fun during our classes. One day we were going through our exam answers together. Somehow the topic changed and our teacher was talking about a period in her university years when she was playing an online game. The whole class, including her, were laughing out loud. However, when she raised her voice, we knew that we should be quiet and pay attention.
In “Sexta” (sixth year), Andrea started dance club. Most of it consisted of about ten people of our class, including me. Our teacher taught us various Standard and Latin social dances: Viennese Waltz, Waltz, Cha-cha, Jive, Rumba and more. No meeting was without laughter. Quick dances with their bomb-like passion often left us panting. In my favor were slow dances, Waltz the most. Flight is very close to it. The cherry on the top of our club was our performance at the school ball that year in February. After hours of rehearsals we made our dear teacher proud.
Unfortunately, not all of our experiences were happy. In April, a tragedy happened. Right on Good Friday one of my classmates was stabbed and killed by another boy. This terrible event shook not only our school, not only our town, but the whole country. The boy and I did not like each other much, yet it was a great shock. Our class teacher helped us to move on. I guess this had been the point that changed a lot in our class.
The thing I admire the most is her strong faith. She is not like most people who claim to be Roman Catholics, who go to church only on Sunday. She lives her faith. Sometimes some of us gathered after school in school chapel, and she was leading the prayers. Three times we had spiritual revivals with her. Once we spent a weekend at a lodge of classmate’s patents and twice we slept at school. Except praying, discussions and talking about God, Andrea prepared some activities for us. One of them was silentium, about an hour and a half we had to be quiet. Communication using only gestures, even at dinner, lead to a funny situation. Two girls ended up arguing in silence and persuading the other to take the last pancake. One of them pointed to the other, showed her pinkie, then pointed to herself and spread her hands. I think she won and the other took the pancake.
“Septima” brought again something new. In our last two years our classroom was second door left of the school entrance. Nearly opposite it was the French teachers’ room. During most of our breaks we could find our class teacher there and go for a little chat. It was small, narrow room with Andrea‘s table on the left and two other tables on the right. Opposite the door was her rocking chair; the rocking chair that I and my classmates loved to sit in while we were talking.
Sometimes she called us to her place. It was an alternative for a usual Class Session, a class at which we discussed class issues, trips and upcoming events. She lived in one room apartment. It was small, yet cozy place with a large window instead of one wall. On average there were eight of us plus Andrea’s short-haired black tomcat (named Selma). In comfort, sipping tea and eating snacks we could talk.
The last year, “Oktava” was the most challenging. We had to learn everything we had learned in last four years for the school leaving exams, commonly called “maturita.” Except for Slovak and a foreign language, we had to choose two subjects. Mine were Biology and History. Of course, I had History seminars with my class teacher. She was encouraging me to learn and to not be afraid to speak in front of people. Both parts were quite important because the exam was oral. In the end she was the one who was examining me and it went well.
The last day of school brought a scent of nostalgia and farewells. After four years with Andrea, our relationships were strong. She was like a mother of our class. Saying “goodbye” never felt so hard. Fortunately, she had been engaged in miraculous timing. At the end of July she and her beloved got married, and we were there.
“Keep writing,” said Miss Andrea Zvarova, after handing me my last transcript.
“I will,” I promised her. And promised myself I will never forget her.